Speech from Berlin Wall 30- on 6th November 2019

Hello. It is wonderful to be back in Berlin. I have always appreciated the warmth with which I have been greeted when visiting Germany – and it has been no different today. So, thank you for inviting me to join this conference – and thank you for coming this evening.

I am a newly elected Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament. Until last April, I was like you. Interested in politics, but not elected to any role, I really am a voter who got angry – and stood up and got involved.

In the European Parliament, I sit on two Committees that cover Culture and Education and also Industry, Research and Energy. What unites these two roles, for me, is Innovation.

That is why, today, I have decided to talk with you about the culture that I have seen and enjoyed here in Berlin and why I think that art, music and technical innovation are, here, are so comfortably wrapped up together. And why this really matters for Berlin, Germany and the rest of the world.

Thirty years ago, there was an energy then about Berlin that was unmissable, and remarkably it has not faded. Of course, people were innovating here, before the wall went up, before the wall came down, but those 28 years – those 10,316 days – that Berlin spent as divided city somehow changed the way Berliners think and the way they work. It brought art and science together in your innovations many, many years before the rest of Europe – or even the rest of the world – were even thinking about it.

I have a friend, and artist – a German artist who has lived in the U.K. for more than twenty years now – who, under threat of Brexit, has been bringing his art to Berlin. He is a sculptor, whose early series, Immaterial, uses granite and metal to crate a negative space – usually a human form, sitting and in conversation, so poised for action that you wonder if they will move when you look away – but essential when you enjoy his work, you are looking at the air at a space, at something which you cannot quite lay your hands on, which is… intangible, immaterial, inspirational.

My first time in Berlin was in 1991. I was filming for a science documentary series called Tomorrow’s World. It was on prime time tv, a science magazine show, and by then I had filmed all over the UK. I had filmed inventions elsewhere in Germany and here, there was different feel high tech – but with a twist that has to be put down to your own unique history.

On that trip I was privileged to visit Potsdamer Platz station while still closed and a part of Hitler’s bunker which had been caught between the walls. These visits were unsettling. In the bunker – stark murals, poised, stylish – but knowing what they represented, repellent. From there we went directly to the underground station – Potsdamer Platz – stark, dark and empty. A strange reflection of the inhibition of the communist era where the lack of imagination, the lack of freedom, left a powerful impression.

But I was in Berlin to discover innovation – architecture, design, Potsdamer Platz, VR – and remember this was 1991. VR was completely new. Very advanced, very exciting and – very Berlin. Art and tech coming together to build a better world.

Your engineers were similar, drawing on natural and environmental ideas, the curve of a leaf, the feathers of flight. I do not remember the names, now, but people building natural lines into urban design, an idea which is fashionable now – growing in Berlin as the wall came down.

On a more practical note, I spent time with an environmental community in Kreuzberg which practised environmental, sustainable living. – words which were not common in the nineties. Now, every time I see a green wall, I think of Kreuzberg. Berlin was working out how to cut water consumption and develop sustainable ways of living, while the rest of world was asleep on the job!

Just thinking – we filmed with the children in the Kreuzberg nursery flushing the loos, turning taps on and off and on and off again – they thought we were nuts – they would have been just 3 or 4 years old – which would make them about 34, 35 years old now. If you know anyone who was there – tell them the crazy film director says hi.

FUTURE SKILLS – so why does this all matter?

As an educationalist, I attend a lot of talks, discussions and meetings about what skills we need to address the future. The only thing that is clear is that cross fertilisation between disciplines is going to be critical. Also, empathy and diversity – places like Berlin and London which bring together people and ideas from across the world – are the places expected to thrive.

Innovation that brings together unlikely disciplines, unlikely aspects of art and science and music and tech and play – the kind of innovation that we see here in Berlin is going to be the bedrock of our new society. Innovation drives employment, drives taxes and services and so drives the good of society. It’s also fun, stimulating and makes life worthwhile.

Here, it seemed as if crazy, fantastic innovation sprang from 28 years of confinement and repression, even in the West Berlin, which was called ‘free’ and of course was essentially ‘free’ but enjoyed a strange crazy half life for 28 years – clear confinement for East Berlin, but also a strange semi confinement for the West. Although West Berlin was free, we outsiders often forget that the city was surrounded on all sides by East Germany and USSR.

People could leave and have safe passage, but in the course of everyday life, not many people would leave. You live where you live. And some life for west Berliners seems to have had a semi-caged quality. And I think this was important – certainly in the 90s it was as if ideas were falling like fountains. As if the pressure of confinement and restriction gave people time to think, pushed them to lift their eyes and their hearts beyond the day to day

Add to that the fact that the city is even now too small for culture to divide itself into narrow silos. The science, it seemed when I was ere, could not escape from art, and the art that I saw at the time acknowledged and embraced the influence of science. Where else would you see – as we did here in 2012 – opera performed in the turbine hall of a former power station. {Staatsoper Unter den Linden at the Berlin Power Station, Luigi Nono’s socialist opera Al Gran Sole Carico d’Amore.}

Even today, you have 3 opera houses, the world class BPO with our own SIMON Rattle and something like 20,000 artists, in a city that is less than half the size of London.

In some magical way your city and your institutions seem to be managing to build in that inspiration – so often when the big players get involved they squeeze the life out of things, but not here.

So, we see the collaboration between the Arts university and the Technical university which brings together artistic practice with scientific research in the Berlin Open Lab. We have the Fab Lab – a fantastic hub of the Berlin maker community, with spaces that young inventors and makers can work in and kit – 3D printers, laser cutters and the very latest design software for them to use.

When the wall came down in 1989: there was no internet. The work of Kreuzberg and the German Greens, notwithstanding, we had never heard the words ‘climate change’. For goodness sake, Ed Sheehan was not even been born!!

If I may take the liberty of echoing JFK’s speech from 1963: Berlin has been and, amazingly, still is a cradle of change.

HERE IN BERLIN – You HAVE lifted your eyes beyond the dangers of the past and towards the hopes of tomorrow.

And the fantastic culture of invention that goes on here has had and will have repercussions that reach beyond this city, Berlin, and maybe even beyond Germany.

This city is still a symbol of peace and the CHANGES and inventions WROUGHT HERE carry a greater weight

Wherever the next 30 years take us in terms of culture, art, music and innovation, I have no doubt that you, that Berlin will be leading the way


The future looks bright with these promising apprentices, but we can make it brighter still!

In October, I was delighted to welcome 24 apprentices from the South East of England to Brussels, along with an additional contingent from the East of England! These are young men and women who I hope will benefit from finding out opportunities that are available to them throughout the EU. It took a lot of time, preparation and effort, (thanks team!) but I am thrilled to say it was a resounding success.

The inspiration for this trip came from the Manifesto for a Europe of Apprenticeships, which seeks to consolidate vocational students’  place within the wider Erasmus+ scheme. Erasmus+ has provided life-changing opportunities for over nine million young people to study in EU member states since 1987, yet it was only since 2014 that apprenticeship opportunities were really expanded, thanks to the ErasmusPRO pilot project. ErasmusPRO includes language support for apprentices on placements in Europe and much longer placements of 6-12 months which gives an opportunity for consolidation of learning and building of confidence in the apprentices meaning delegates can fully immerse themselves in a different country, pick up a language and become comfortable with living, working and studying in a new culture. As someone whose career has centred around education, I’ve long campaigned for a recognition that it comes in many different forms. For some, university is undoubtedly the best course of action, but for many within our workforce it is not. Many learners benefit far better from a more practical, hands-on, vocational approach.  

Harriet and Lexie learning about options for Erasmus placements in Europe

When the group arrived at the European Parliament I had the chance to speak with them and find out what they knew about Erasmus+ and talk about their career aspirations and how a placement in a European country could help them. The discussions were eye-opening, fascinating and encouraging. What a brilliant group of young people, from such a diverse and interesting range of fields. We had apprentices training in broadcast production, heating and ventilation, engineering, law, science and business. A fantastic mix and proof that (nearly) whatever career path you want to pursue, there is more than one path that can get you there.

I hope this experience will give our visitors a chance to tell their friends, their fellow apprentices, and their families about all that is available to them through schemes like Erasmus+. It’s a huge shame despite that hard work in this area and knowledge of the routes to vocational education are still not well known. Young people like these apprentices are this country’s future. By providing them with the tools for success and access to the best training programmes, we help build a stronger, more prosperous and more enriched country. Something that benefits us all!

Whatever future unrolls in the coming months, it is critical that the skills deficit in the UK and access to training throughout Europe is prioritised so that our society can thrive. Currently, quite aside from Erasmus, EU funding supports a large amount of training and education. Johnson’s deal contains precious little detail about how this will be replaced and it’s hard to believe that access to vocational training will be a top priority for the current Government,

This is one reason that we are so keen to Stop Brexit. it’s not just about the economic impact, jobs, or our ability to trade with the rest of the world, it’s about ensuring that our young people, on whose shoulders the future of this country depends, are not denied the fantastic opportunities that others, throughout Europe enjoy!

– Judith

Reading Festival

Love music? Brexit will be a lose-lose for British bands, artists & festivals. Musicians need free movement rights & full Single Market access
especially on tour.

Don’t Let Brexit Steal Your Future.

This weekend, was enormous fun at Reading festival talking with festival goers with their whole life ahead of them to find out what they think about Europe and Brexit.

What a complete pleasure. We met lively, positive kids who are completely clear: They want to Stop Brexit.

Everyone we spoke with who was over 18 was already registered to vote. Those I met who are 16 or 17 are looking forward to the opportunity to do so. One young woman, indeed, asked if we would kindly hold off any general election until after September 9th so that she can take part.
Jo, Jeremy, Johnson … if you wouldn’t mind? 

It was terrific to meet Femi from Our Future Our Choice. If you haven’t seen his videos about Europe yet, try this – one of my favourites.

This is cross-party campaigning, organised by  #OpenBritain and #BerkshireforEurope, and it is going on all weekend – Great work, guys! Saturday, I was with Rachel Eden from Reading’s Labour Council and Adrian Betteridge, one of the campaign organisers, who until recently was a convinced Conservative. I am pleased to report that Adrian has seen the light and is now a signed up Liberal Democrat. Welcome, Adrian. It is great to have you on board.

If you would like to join us – sign up here. 

Finally, thank you to EVERYONE who stopped to talk to us and tell us what you think. And to everyone who took a sticker or signed the petition to help spread the message:


Don’t Let Brexit Steal Your Future!    

**Lib Dems WIN in Brecon!**

Fantastic news today. Jane Dodds and the local Liberal Democrat team just WON the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election!

This result proves again that the Lib Dems are back and are a huge force to be reckoned with in British politics. 

We have burst Boris Johnson’s bubble in the first week of his premiership. We have reduced his majority in Parliament to just one vote.

I am also delighted that Brecon and Radnorshire are now being represented by an excellent woman. Jane was the first Council candidate I ever delivered for. She was excellent then, and will be an excellent MP now.

The Liberal Democrats have a positive vision for a richer, greener and safer future – within the EU.

Hundreds of people have joined the Lib Dems this morning on seeing the news that we can take on Boris Johnson and win.

Will you join us today?


Brecon & Radnor – Tomorrow, Weds 31st July

Jane Dodds

The Brecon and Radnorshire by-election is this week 
Thursday, 1st August.


Can you join us to help get out the vote TOMORROW, Wednesday 31st July?


There is a real chance that we can steal this seat away from the Conservatives – but only if we get the vote out.

Jane Dodds is a terrific candidate – and the first Councillor for whom I ever campaigned. She is Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and will make a brilliant MP.

I am taking a car of activists on WEDNESDAY 31st July to join the work to Get Out the Vote. If you would like to join us, please message me via Facebook messenger (Judith Bunting MEP) to arrange where to meet. Or contact me by text, if you already have my phone number. 

Pick up:

  • Reading area: ~08:00
  • Newbury/Thatcham area: ~08:30
  • Hungerford area: ~09:00

Please message or text before 8pm TODAY Tuesday to arrange pick up.

I look forward to seeing you. 

World Environment Day – Lib Dems tackle air pollution crisis

Today, Liberal Democrats in Westminster are tabling a bill to give local authorities more powers to issue fines to idling vehicles. 

The Bill will increase penalties for stationary vehicle idling offences, as well as increasing fines for those who repeatedly offend.

In 2002 councils in England were given powers to serve fixed penalty notices of £20 to drivers who refuse to turn off their engines when asked by a traffic warden.

This Conservative Government, however, has failed to take air pollution seriously. They have lost numerous court cases over their inability to tackle the toxic fumes that Britain breathes every day. Liberal Democrats demand better.

Air pollution continues to be the number one environmental cause of early death in the EU, with estimates of over 400 000 premature deaths per year. Public awareness of air pollution is high and citizens expect the authorities to act. 

The legislation tabled today by the Lib Dems Climate Change spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse MP, is a crucial step in tackling our air pollution crisis. It will allow local authorities to clamp down on idling without the need to apply to the Government first, and it will enable them to increase fines on repeat offenders.

We must do more to tackle both the climate emergency and the air pollution crisis. Tories in Westminster must stop wilfully ignoring the problem and back the Bill.

Thank You for your support.

Thank you, thank you to everyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections 2019. You are amazing.

Huge thanks go in particular to the campaigners across the South East of England who bundled, delivered, tweeted, facebooked and put up those fabulous stake boards and posters. With little media coverage, this is what we rely on to get our message out.

The Liberal Democrat vote in the South East of England more than tripled. We elected three MEPs. Please seek us out on social media. You can read about us, here:

In a fantastic result spread across the UK, Liberal Democrats elected 16 MEPs. Our biggest team ever. This is a clear indication that people want to STOP BREXIT.

The papers are parading a Brexit Party victory, but the total vote for all the Remain-leaning parties clearly outweighs UKIP and the Brexit Party.

  • Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, Plaid and Change UK – all backers of a second referendum polled 39.1%.
  • No-dealers, Ukip and the Brexit Party collectively achieved just 33.7%.

It’s not often that I post links to the Daily Telegraph, but it is particularly sweet to read their report on the result: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/05/27/won-uks-european-elections-leave-remain/

Here, in the South East of England, Nigel Farage’s home territory, we held the Brexit Party to four seats only – the same number of seats that UKIP won in 2014. This time, UKIP won no seats. There was no improvement in representation for Leave.

You can find out more about the full Liberal Democrat team across the UK, here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/meps

I will write more in the next day or so, but this is just the beginning. Our campaign to Stop Brexit goes on and will continue until we win a People’s Vote.

If you would like to join the team – please sign up here:

We’re leading the fight for an Exit from Brexit

Read the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the European elections 2019, here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/manifesto

Liberal Democrats believe that Britain is better off in the EU. That’s why we’re fighting for an Exit from Brexit.

The Conservatives are making a mess of Brexit, and the Labour Leadership continues to support them.

The Liberal Democrats want to give you the final say on the Brexit deal.

You should be able to choose whether the deal is the right deal for Britain’s future. If it’s not, then you should be able to reject it and remain in the European Union.

Newbury Weekly News: Report on EU voting and background information on Lib Dem Candidate #3.

Report, above, from the Newbury Weekly News. This includes a ittle background on me and what my main aims for this election are, which will not come as a surprise.

It also includes a handy guide to the EU voting system and, rather gloriously, a profile of Elizabeth O’Keefe, Cllr for Newbury Central, who takes over the Newbury Mayorship this coming weekend.